Uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt reveal potent challenge to Middle East seats of power

The New York Times reports:

As protesters in Tahrir Square faced off against pro-government forces, they drew a lesson from their counterparts in Tunisia: “Advice to the youth of Egypt: Put vinegar or onion under your scarf for tear gas.”

The exchange on Facebook was part of a remarkable two-year collaboration that has given birth to a new force in the Arab world — a pan-Arab youth movement dedicated to spreading democracy in a region without it. Young Egyptian and Tunisian activists brainstormed on the use of technology to evade surveillance, commiserated about torture and traded practical tips on how to stand up to rubber bullets and organize barricades.

They fused their secular expertise in social networks with a discipline culled from religious movements and combined the energy of soccer fans with the sophistication of surgeons. Breaking free from older veterans of the Arab political opposition, they relied on tactics of nonviolent resistance channeled from an American scholar through a Serbian youth brigade — but also on marketing tactics borrowed from Silicon Valley.

As their swelling protests shook the Egyptian state, they were locked in a virtual tug of war with a leader with a very different vision — Gamal Mubarak, the son of President Hosni Mubarak, a wealthy investment banker and ruling-party power broker. Considered the heir apparent to his father until the youth revolt eliminated any thought of dynastic succession, the younger Mubarak pushed his father to hold on to power even after his top generals and the prime minister were urging an exit, according to American officials who tracked Hosni Mubarak’s final days.

The defiant tone of the president’s speech on Thursday, the officials said, was largely his son’s work.

“He was probably more strident than his father was,” said one American official, who characterized Gamal’s role as “sugarcoating what was for Mubarak a disastrous situation.” But the speech backfired, prompting Egypt’s military to force the president out and assert control of what they promise will be a transition to civilian government.

Now the young leaders are looking beyond Egypt. “Tunis is the force that pushed Egypt, but what Egypt did will be the force that will push the world,” said Walid Rachid, one of the members of the April 6 Youth Movement, which helped organize the Jan. 25 protests that set off the uprising. He spoke at a meeting on Sunday night where the members discussed sharing their experiences with similar youth movements in Libya, Algeria, Morocco and Iran.

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3 thoughts on “Uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt reveal potent challenge to Middle East seats of power

  1. scott

    I wish they would focus on the poorer countries, they will find more success. Jordan, Morocco, Yemen, and Syria. These countries are teetering. The wealthier states will suppress this aggressively, but they can only do that with cash. These will go directly to the improve conditions for the people. This will only embolden the people across the region and they will demand more. Of course many pitfalls lie ahead, but these are the genuine birth pangs of people power.

  2. Norman

    I wonder what the NYT meant by “The Young Leaders Are Looking Beyond Egypt”? That’s a puzzle of a question! It seems to imply that the Revolutions are being led by some group of youthful leaders not of the countries involved. As for finding more success with poorer countries like those mentioned in a comment, I think that they stand less of a chance of success than Tunisia & Egypt had. Unless there are the same elements involved as to the people, I don’t believe that I’d take bets that they would be easier t0o change. So far, they have been held back. Besides, it seems from what we have seen/read already, that the U.S. doesn’t seem to have a clue as to what is on the play card, as far as the MSM is concerned. Censorship here in the U.S. for the vast majority has been quite thorough, even on the web. This should be a wake-up call to those in this country who might think it could never happen here. Look at who controls the media, who controls the finances, but most of all, who are distracting the American public with their “KABUKI” performances in Washington?

  3. Frigga Karl

    to scott: I wish that this “pan-Arab youth movement” will overleap to all countries in the world. especially to the western countries. Can you imagine a revolution in each country
    with a revolutionary mix of german, egyptian, italian, tunesian, mexican (Chiapas, Oaxaca), american youth etc… , transforming the world into a big festifal, chasing away those horrible leaders in Europe, in USA and elsewhere, and only those standing with the youth (Galloway in Britain, Assange in Australia, Mordechai Vanunu in Israel, Mairead Maguire in Ireland, Cynthia McKinney in USA, are wellcomed ! Wall street empty, Cheney, Rumsfeld Gonzales with Bush and the Saudi Princes in prison etc… in prison! What a festival!

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